In the end, they joined forces and talked me into it. My first grader, well, I could have stood strong and worn him down. But the two of them together, I couldn’t manage it.
My husband was a natural salesman; not in the pushy, don’t-return-his-calls-ever-again-once-you-sign-the-contract kind of way. More in the adorable, sweet, charming, I-wonder-if-he’ll-call-me-soon kind of way.
It used to drive me crazy. I’d be all “No, we need to do the leaves”, and “No, we should save that money”, and “We should NOT be doing that” and he’d say “it will work out, don’t worry” – and it always did.
It used to drive me really crazy.
So when my first grader brought home the notice for Pop Warner Football, I said Absolutely Not in the imperious, bossy, firm manner that only comes from many years of parenting experience. And maybe from somewhat imperious, bossy me. “You could get a concussion”, I said. “You could get really hurt”, I said. “You won’t last the first week of conditioning”, I said. “I don’t want to give up August”. I said.
But the two of them gave me the eyes, and the helmet this, and the structure that, and the discipline this, and he never asks for anything this, and all of a sudden my second grader was getting fitted for a helmet and pads and my husband was calling me from my son’s first day of practice with a huge smile (and maybe a tear) in his eye to tell me that my son was playing “his” position – right guard.
So, I guess it wasn’t surprising that when I had to sit my boys down, at 6 and 10 years old, and tell them their father was dead and no, he actually was never coming home again, they had a lot of questions – and one of them was “Can I still play football”.
I will be writing a lot about my husband and our journey since then…but that was a really, really bad day.
Yesterday, they lost the game.
It was a big one, the “Superbowl”. They were 10-0. they were rolling. It was a hard loss. My son works very, very hard and is a captain on this team. Yesterday afternoon was long, he was feeling responsible for the loss on some level. But in the way that he can, he seemed to bounce back and went to his activity last night. He woke up this morning and I could tell he was going to be OK. After all, we’ve been through much worse.
Me? I’m a mess.
Why? It’s his last Pop Warner game. Ever. In his life. He’ll play at the high school next year and I’m sure it will be a great experience. He can’t wait. But high school isn’t youth sports, and by definition it won’t be the same. He is getting older, and I am so proud and not a little blown away at the man he is becoming. And I can be in a “good place” and ready to “move on” with my life and still have my heart ache, and ache, and ache, that his father isn’t here to see him.
It’s been almost four years. We are doing fine, and we are blessed in many, many ways. But these moments still happen-maybe not all the time, but enough to take my breath away and take every ounce of my spare emotional energy to stay out of that endless black hole opened up by that vicious bitch grief and named self-pity. You hear it all the time but seriously folks, if you can take anything from my ramblings, please take this – not just in an academic but in the most real way you can possibly imagine.
Life is short. Say “I love you”. A lot. Give hugs. A lot. Give in. Take pictures. A lot. Have fun. A whole lot. Know and trust that it will almost always work out, even if it wasn’t how you initially intended.
And let those littles talk you into a thing or two. Because you just never know what will change all of your lives.